MB Taylor's Reviews > I Sing the Body Electric! & Other Stories

I Sing the Body Electric! & Other Stories by Ray Bradbury
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May 06, 12

Read from April 15 to May 03, 2012

I finished reading I Sing the Body Electric! And Other Stories late last week. This is another of the repackaged Ray Bradbury collections. I see two ways to take the title of this collection: The most obvious meaning is that this collection contains the short story “I Sing the Body Electric!” and other stories; the other interpretation (which I prefer) is that this collection contains the stories from the original I Sing the Body Electric! (1969) collection and some additional stories.

The 1969 < i>I Sing the Body Electric! contained 17 stories and a poem originally published between 1948 and 1969. This collection contains the 18 pieces from the earlier collection and 11 more; the additional stories were published between 1946 and 1976. All of the additional stories also appear in Long After Midnight (1976).

I love Ray Bradbury and this collection didn’t disappoint. Although I’m virtually positive I read the 1969 collection sometime in the 70s, I had forgotten several of the stories, including some that were my favorites this time around.

The ninth story in the collection, “Night Call, Collect” (1949) was the first in the book to really excite me. The earlier stories have some good moments, but I really got into this story of a man abandoned on Mars.

The next story, “The Haunting of the New” (1969), also very good, is a gentle tale of wanting to have it all.

This was followed by “I Sing the Body Electric!” (1969), perhaps one of Bradbury’s most famous stories. This story of a robotic grandmother was adapted by Bradbury for the Twilight Zone in 1962 and later was made into a TV movie The Electric Grandmother (1982). The 1969 date for the story (from isfdb) and the 1962 date for the Twilight Zone seem at odds with the idea that the TV show was adapted from the story. I’m guessing that the 1969 story (nearly a novella at nearly 30 pages) was preceded by a shorter story (perhaps never published) that was a common source for both. “I Sing the Body Electric!” is perhaps overly sweet for some readers, but I’ve always liked it.

The fifteenth story in the collection, “The Man in the Rorschach Shirt” (1966), has been a favorite of mine ever since I first read it. It’s the story of a famous psychiatrist who discovers that his treatments have been based on his faulty perceptions, and how he reacts. For years I would occasionally think of this story, never remembering that it was written by Bradbury.

I also really liked the last story (excluding the poem) in the original collection, “The Lost City of Mars” (1967). It’s a hard story to describe, but I love almost all of Bradbury’s stories from Mars. This one is about an unlikely group of humans searching for a lost city. What they find doesn’t disappoint.

The twenty-sixth story, “Punishment Without Crime” (1950) is in interesting read. It doesn’t appear in the original collection, but it did appear in Bradbury’s 2009 collection Marionettes, Inc., which I have read. It’s a mildly disturbing story about the power of the mind and the vagaries of the law.

The last story (excluding the poem) in the collection, “Drink Entire: Against the Madness of Crowds” (1976) is one I don’t think I’ve read before. It’s a strange tale with a stranger ending; I’m not sure exactly what it’s about, except possibly squandered opportunities. It has a feverish claustrophobic feel that worked really well for me.

All in all, this was a good collection. The seven stories above were my favorites, but many of the others were equally good. I’ve read less than half of the books of his I have, so still I have a lot of good reading ahead of me.
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